Huddle with the Faculty - "Will, Kate, and the Royals: Celebrity Obsessions"
Gary Cross, Distinguished Professor of Modern History
Oct. 6, 2012, 8:30-11:00 a.m.
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Why did many Americans obsess over the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton despite the fact that we abandoned the crown more than two centuries ago? Why do we Americans find the activities of the royals so interesting, and by extension, how does this relate to the modern creation of the media celebrity? After addressing the rituals of the royal event and American reactions to it, we will look at the roots of this interest in the weddings of royals back to the first “white” wedding of Victoria and Albert and then look at how we create our own “royalty” through the photograph, movies, and TV.
Gary Cross, a native of Spokane, Wash., has been a history professor at Penn State since 1983 and is the author of a dozen books about popular culture and consumption. His most recent works include Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity, The Playful Crowd: Pleasure Places in the 20th Century, and An All Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America. He is currently completing a modern history of the packaging of “pleasure” in junk food, music, images, and amusement parks and a study of “consuming nostalgia” in the way that people recall the past through collections, media, and themed parks.